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Chinese authorities monitor text messages

Chinese authorities monitor text messages

As the severity of China's internal communications censorship deepens, it has emerged that consumers who subscribe to the two state controlled networks could have their SMS service terminated if the content of their messages is deemed to be inappropriate.

China Mobile and China Unicom are allegedly monitoring each one of the billions of messages that pass through their systems each day, with certain customers then cut off if their communiqués are titillating or critical of the government.

Google has entered into a dispute with the Chinese authorities in the last week and could pull its business out of the country altogether if it feels that the state is exercising excessive censorship over its search results.

In 2009, the Chinese government began a campaign of internet censorship, with the main aim claimed to be the eradication of pornography and it is now clear that its reach has extended into the mobile market.

According to China Mobile, the police have required that it now makes any text messages considered to be illegal known to them.

It has since installed filters which automatically check all messages for content which might contravene legislation, including terrorist activity, violent or threatening texts and sexually explicit material.

Some government workers have publicly stated that they do not approve of the level of censorship which is currently being exerted over the communications infrastructure within China. Many are worried that private information will be leaked and the system abused.

One mobile customer was told that his phone had been deactivated because of expletives he had written in a text message and that in order to unblock his SIM he would be required to visit a police station.

In addition, a letter stating his commitment to refrain from using such language in the future would also need to be presented to the authorities.

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